Episode 9: Forensic science and human rights in Afghanistan, with Zabi Mazoori

zabimazooriheadshotFor this episode, Kate interviewed Zabi Mazoori, who coordinates the Afghanistan project for Physicians for Human Rights’ International Forensic Program.

In 2001, he fled persecution by the Taliban and sought asylum in Australia. He returned to Afghanistan to pursue human rights work in 2008.

Zabi Mazoori spent two years working at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, specialising in transitional justice. He also consulted for Physicians for Human Rights, where he facilitated the Paraprofessional Mass Grave Site Team and Basic Human Osteology Training conducted in 2010 at the Afghan National Police Academy. He is also one of the founders of the Afghanistan ForensiceScience Organization and a founding member of the Transitional Justice Coordination Group.

In this episode, Kate and Zabi discussed the development of forensic training in Afghanistan for documenting and preserving evidence in mass grave and massacre exhumations. They discuss how this helps to prosecute perpetrators of violence, some of whom are still in power, and to ensure dignity to victims by enabling proper burials of loved ones.

They also discuss how hymen-examination for virginity-testing emerged as a forensic issue, and how this is a scientifically invalid process. The Afghanistan Forensic Science Organization gained support from the ulama to call for a total ban of such tests.

At the end, Zabi describes major changes that have occurred in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban and highlights gaps in development, particularly in higher education, which Zabi describes as integral to the country’s future development.

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